On Our One Non-Negotiable Demand: Sunday Bagpipe Maneuvers in the Park

07Jan08

Yesterday as we approached Ft. Tryon Park for our weekly promenade in Washington Heights‘ most beautiful cliff-side heather garden, we were confronted by a small regiment of bagpipe players, apparently rehearsing for an upcoming event. We sat for a few minutes on one of the adjacent benches and observed these maneuvers, in which the band was attempting to negotiate a 90-degree turn while holding formation, all the while huffing and squeezing their strange, unwieldy instruments. There were eight players in total, led by a stern, white-haired conductor; we admired all of them and regretted that they were not in traditional garb.

Although it was clearly a rehearsal, with many screeching stops and starts, it did not prevent us from pleasantly losing ourselves in the mournful, bagpipey sounds that filled the surrounding air. While there’s no doubt that the abrasive quality of a bagpipe does not make it the perfect accompaniment for every setting, here at the entrance to the park, and on a Sunday afternoon, it was perfect; with the last hours of the weekend dwindling away, we faced the prospect of yet another week of corporate drudgery with what seemed like an appropriate measure of wistful resignation and perhaps even nobility.

It was at this moment that a thought occurred: given our enjoyment of these bagpipe maneuvers in the park, wouldn’t it be ideal if we could enjoy the same each Sunday? The more we considered this, the more it seemed like the answer was in fact that it would be more than “ideal,” it should be essential, a requirement, something to depend upon. Next turning our attention to how this might happen, we did not hesitate — given the current climate — to consider the presidential campaign, and all of the promises that have been made (and the likelihood that any of them will be kept). But this one time, we have decided to shed our cynicism! We not only believe this can happen, but that — with the right candidate in office — it will and must happen!

In light of the above, let us now make clear our one non-negotiable demand: henceforth we will limit our support of presidential candidates to those who promise — upon assuming the office — to mandate the playing of bagpipes at the entrance to our favorite park each Sunday afternoon. Candidates, take heed! Do not take this lightly! Of all the demands we have made — marriage equality, environmental protections, universal healthcare, improved public transportation, redistribution of wealth — this is the one you should approach most carefully, for we would never be willing to negotiate or “water-down” its essence. Perhaps if we had we asked for daily bagpipe maneuvers in the park, we could understand the need to compromise, but we feel — and this should likewise be clear to all — that our position is perfectly reasonable; in short, we have no intent of endorsing any candidate who proposes monthly bagpipe maneuvers in the park, or even Sunday morning maneuvers in the park, because that would completely defeat the purpose of having them weekly on Sunday afternoons, would it not?

We have thus made our one and only non-negotiable demand in this election: Sunday bagpipe maneuvers in the park. As anyone can see, it is a worthy and — unlike so many others — “achievable” cause. Candidates for the presidency of the United States, we look forward to your response.

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